November 11th, 2008
07:23 PM ET
10 years ago

Poll: Racial divides persist after Obama's historic win

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows a divide between whites and blacks about race relations in the wake of Barack Obama's election as the country's 44th president.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows a divide between whites and blacks about race relations in the wake of Barack Obama's election as the country's 44th president.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A national poll released Tuesday suggests that for most African-Americans, the election of Barack Obama as president was a dream come true that they didn't think they would see in their lifetimes.

That's how 80 percent of African-Americans questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey responded; 20 percent disagreed. Among white Americans, only 28 percent called Obama's victory in the race for the White House a dream come true, with the vast majority, 70 percent, saying it was not.

The poll also suggests a racial divide among people who thought a black candidate would be elected president in their lifetimes, with 59 percent of white respondents saying yes, but only 29 percent of black respondents agreeing.

"Polls show that whites and blacks tend to have different views on the amount of racism in the U.S." said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "So it's not surprising that they would have different views on the likelihood of an African-American president."

The survey suggests that Obama's victory may have some affect on race relations in this country.

"A majority of blacks now believe that a solution to the country's racial problems will eventually be found," Holland said. "In every previous poll on this topic dating back to 1993, black respondents had always said that racial problems were a permanent part of the American landscape.

"Even in polls taken earlier this year, a majority of African-Americans said that a solution to the country's racial problems would never be found; now blacks and whites agree that racial tensions may end."

As a result, most blacks view Obama's election as the start of a new era of better race relations in the United States.

Whites appear to disagree. Only one in three whites questioned in the poll said the election marks the start of a new era, although most predicted some improvement in race relations in the country.

"Some whites are tending to take a 'wait and see' approach; six in 10 blacks forecast better race relations as a result of Obama's victory," Holland said. "Whites are also less likely to see this as a historic moment. Unlike blacks, most whites say they thought they would see an African-American president in their lifetimes."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday with 1,246 adult Americans, including 310 blacks and 807 non-Hispanic whites, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample and plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for racial breakdowns.

soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. keith butler/Friends of Obama08

    The family White House Pet should be named Gridloc...

    November 11, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  2. Darwin in SC

    I am a 41 year old black male that voted for Obama because he was the best candidate. In the last election I voted for Bush because I felt he was the better of the 2 candidates. I am proud that America has voted for their 1st black president(American law 1/64th negro) it is a great day in America we are progressing we are becoming what Dr.King dreamed of. Thank you America we asked for change and we voted for it. I wish my mom would have lived to see it.

    November 11, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  3. Tony

    Sandee in Portland: Thank you. Most of us do not see everything in America as Black and White. While it is obviously a proud moment, I didn't vote for Barack Obama because he LOOKS like me. I voted for him because he THINKS like me, only smarter and I think he is the right person at the right time.

    The bonus is that if my son ever asks if he could be President someday, I can truthfully tell him "YES", if he works hard enough for it, all things are possible.

    November 11, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  4. Elephant in Room

    This article is misleading regarding white American's view of the historic significance. What should be called out more is that the MAJORITY of white Americans (like myself) had a more optimistic view that an African American COULD become president in our lifetime. I am extremely proud to have contributed in some small part and voted for Obama because he was the smartest candidate this country has seen in decades. But I do not discount the significance that our newest president was born when African Americans didn't even have the right to vote, and has risen to being our president. It says a LOT about American's ability to grow up and adapt (though not as quickly as it should have).

    The survey should have called more attention to that. Instead it tries to mislead by making it sound like the majority may not be as proud. We are very proud, and the U.S.A Today poll today proved 70% of ALL American's are optimistic about an Obama presidency.

    November 11, 2008 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  5. Sigh...

    I don't care what sex/color a candidate is. I only care whether the candidate is qualified to become President. Obama is not. Heck, I could care less if Obama was Hispanic, Asian, or White. I do not support Obama and it is not a dream come true for me. The only dream come true for me would be electing another Franklin Roosevelt to office.

    November 11, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  6. jamaicaland-welove

    what touched me most was to see how liberated the caucasians felt...because of what their ancestors did...i'm negroid and i'm proud of our caucasian sistrens and see that we have come so terms of race race is superior ...but frankly i think negroids are at an advantage and some whites feel threatened....sad for them.......... equal rites an justice for all..

    November 11, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |

    This is a ridiculous story. Why doesn't CNN list the actual questions? I am sure that they are worded in such a way to make it seem like race relations are whatever CNN intended it them to look like.

    I would say that most whites don't believe it is the beginning of a new era because they aren't racist and would not have any problem voting for the right person regardless of their race, so there was no change in the present era. If people want to live in the past like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, then let them waste their life doing it. If you look back far enough, everyone, and every country, could find something bad in it's past.

    If blacks believe that a maojority of white people are racist, then they are simply wrong and this election should go a long way to prove that. Now that the first black man is elected president, then it is good for that sole reason, to show blacks that not every white person is a racist. Barack would not have been elected without the votes of all races. Slavery would not have ended if every white person was racist. Just because someone is a differenct political party does not mean that they are racist. Just because they did not vote for Obama does not mean that they are racist. I am a white republican and I voted for Obama.

    Why do people persist to believe that "America" is a racist country? Individuals are racist, not entire countries! Wake up all of you idiots. Stop using weasel words like "they". Point out all of these racist people in our midst. I am positive that there are some racist white people, just like there are some racist black people. That does not make America a racist country! It makes those PEOPLE racist! Pull your heads out of your arse and live your life. Stop blaming anyone for any of your problems. If someone uses a racial slur towards you, blame them...don't blame America.

    I have been called honkey, and other "racist" slurs by blacks, and I took the slur for what it outburst from an idiotic black person using stupid terms because that person didn't have anything intelligent or kind to say. I didn't blame all black people for this, I didn't call the police, I didn't call any news organizations, I didn't become upset that "America is racist", I simply ignored it and walked away.

    There are many good people of any race, just like there are bad people of any race. Blaming an entire race or country for a small group of idiots, that are present in any race of people, is just plain stupid and I get tired of hearing it.

    CNN should be a more responsible news organization. Do whites "really" believe that this country will be any different because Barack is black as CNN proposes? He is an intelligent man. There have been other intelligent men in the white house and nothing has ever changed. Taxes keep rising, government keeps growing, children do worse in school, and CNN, and news organizations like them will keep coming up with stupid new stories to show how bad everything is regarding race relations, when most people just want to put bread on the table for their families, black or white.

    November 11, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  8. Dan

    It would take time but we are headed in the right direction. This is what matters.

    November 11, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  9. Independent but Leaning

    Socialism is blind to race. It is scary how America turned its head to Obama's past (what he let us know of it, anyway), and voted this guy in. All we have is HOPE because we have no real clue who we just elected to be president.

    November 12, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  10. 3strikes

    this time around, it'll be caucasians insinuating riots, ha ha ha pretty funny

    November 12, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  11. Elvin Roman

    A true but neccessary step that is for the lesser evil.

    The road is long but not eternal–


    November 12, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  12. jillmp

    I am so TIRED of the African-American, and the first black president! He is the first bi-racial president, and is as much white as I am. Does no one remember the poicture of him and his white grandmother

    November 12, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  13. La Raza

    god bless america!

    November 12, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  14. PL

    So let me see if I understand this, are white Americans racist because they voted for a white president the last 44 times? I cannot beleive we in this country are still having this stupid debate. Mr. Obama received over 65 million votes the population of Blacks in this country is less than 30 million. What idiots grow up Americans, I think it's safe to say most of you who want to make this election a black issue, could never run for or win what he did because your to stupid and waste to much of what little brains you have on stupid issue crap like this.

    November 12, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |

    These type of stories only serve generate ideas for the hate groups out there. Are you purposely trying to cause the President Elect harm? CNN, you are beginning to worry me!

    November 12, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  16. Obama 08

    To "Independent but Leaning" you and the others that voted for Bush certainly did not know who you were voting for...did you??

    Obama deserves the right to make a mess of things just like he did, which he won't.

    November 12, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  17. Race in election, NY

    As long as humanity exists on this planet, there will be racism.....

    It's a fact and human nature....nobody can change it.......

    November 12, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  18. Tristan

    The media and campaign narrative is that the Obama victory moves the US into a post-racial stage from which we can lead the world by example. The real truth is that most white people didn't vote for Obama and most blacks and hispanics did and as a result a new racial and political divide has been created and things will get a lot worse. I expect immigration to become the major campaign issue in 2010, especially if Obama moves forward with his Amnesty agenda. Expect any crime committed by an illegal alien to be plastered all over the headlines.

    November 12, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  19. Joshua College Station Texas

    I'm as white as white can be, and I'm ecstatic about the new direction our country has taken and its implications for race relations in our country. I'm glad most blacks feel better about things. They deserve to. I hope white Americans will have an open mind.

    November 12, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  20. Edward

    November 12th, 2008 12:11 am ET

    I am so TIRED of the African-American, and the first black president! He is the first bi-racial president, and is as much white as I am. Does no one remember the poicture of him and his white grandmother


    I agree but for some reason in this country if you are of mixed European and African heritage then you're automatically considered to be of African heritage. It probably dates back to segregation and some European Americans not wanting to see someone of African ancestry, even half as equal to themselves or even half equal.

    November 12, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  21. JNC, California

    jillmp, are you kidding me??? If Barack Obama was just a regular guy walking down the street you wouldn't think he was bi-racial, you would think he is African-American....sooooo get over IT!!!! Your one of the reasons why America is still divided. I live in an area that is predominately caucasian and people still give me a look when I rock my Barack Obama T-shirt, but guess what I'm going to continue rocking IT!!!! Yes we can!!

    November 12, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  22. lisa

    Obama is half black and half white, he was raised in a white family. Actually all the 'white' people I know are ecstatic to have someone of color in the white house, it's not just a victory for 'black' people, it's a victory for all people. not just because of our racial history, which is huge- but that his middle name is Hussein, his father is African, he is half black, half white, grew up with a single mom on food stamps, worked on the south side and went to Harvard and was in the Senate-
    he is uniquely qualified to see issues from so many perspectives, and he represents the world, not just 'white' or 'black'....
    he made it on his own, from humble means, everything that people say the American Dream is- he is it.
    this is truly a gift.

    His mixed race background is significant, in an extraordinary way. At the same time, I think he would have been elected no matter what his race or color, he is brilliant and inspiring and has true goodness and dignity.
    Anyone, however, who thinks this is somehow the end of racism on the part of both blacks and whites, is sadly mistaken. perhaps we can talk about it more openly and approach it more productively, which is a huge step.

    November 12, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  23. The Bu

    Racial problems aren't going anywhere for the time being. I think it's going to get worse during the Obama Administration. When things aren't going well, there will be some who will say, "I knew we shouldn't have elected that black man," and it's going to cause a new tenseness between the races. I hope that I'm wrong, but Americans are very fickle and we know how to hit where it hurts and at the same time, if we're offended we fight back. I hope things get better, but I think it'll take more time than we think it will.

    November 12, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  24. cs

    I have lived in black areas and white areas I have never seen white people say racial things to black people, but on more than one occasin I have been called a lot of different things when I said nothing to them. It has been my experenice that black people are way more racialy biast than any other race. I feel that as soon as the media and white and black leaders stop pushing race would be a big step in the right direction. If you want to see proof of racial divides come to Milwaukee,WI and go to every side of town. Even the police look at race before anything. I am white when I lived in a black neiborhood and I was pulled over for being the wrong color 18 times in 7 years and I was just going home.

    November 12, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  25. John Allen

    Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Green... What is this Karate ? Lets stop coloring or polling. LETS JUST BE AMERICAN. How difficult is that ?

    November 12, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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